Night Weaning

My kids don’t sleep for very long intervals. At our house, the phrase “sleep like a baby” is code for “wake up every 2 hours” or “only fall begrudgingly asleep after extensive marching, jiggling, and rending of clothes by your grown-ups.

My Felix, at 17 months, still wakes twice each night. This is sort of bearable, but gosh! It would be nice if he didn’t. Every once in a long while, he wakes only once at night. The next day, I wake up and make crazed notes and spreadsheets (because I have enough energy to do so!!) about his food intake, his bowel movements, the timing of his bath, and the amount and timing of his exercise the day before. You know, so I can try to replicate.

Nursies While the Sun Shines book

Nursies While the Sun Shines: A book about night weaning

Mostly, though, we’ve come to terms with his twice-nightly wakings. My husband comes to terms with this by continuing to sleep beside me in bed. I’ve decided that when Felix is 18 months, we’re going to approach night weaning, just at least so that Daddy can share in the night-time calisthenics parenting.

I don’t recall night weaning my first son, but I know that we did it about 18 months. It must have gone smoothly, right? I will say that night weaning him did not translate to sleeping through the night, but it meant my husband and I could share the night time parenting.

Around that time, we started taking turns at bedtime. Daddy would read books and cuddle Miles to sleep every-other night. This went over remarkably well with Miles. I remember my husband would also offer sippy cups of cow-milk or water if Miles woke up at night. I think he was happy with the cow-milk for a good long while, but then my Miles has always enjoyed a variety of different milks.

Felix is another story. He never did take a bottle and had a very specific type of sippy cup he’d only take out of desperation, and never while I was in the building. I suspect he won’t take kindly to Corey offering him a Camelbak of almond milk at 3am. My husband is a great baby-soother via dancing, swaying, loud shushing…but without a breast to offer it just plain takes Corey longer to soothe Felix. We’re just not sure what we’d like to do here, because if Felix cries for more than a few minutes, it wakes up Miles and I’d rather nurse Felix all night long than deal with two children awake in the wee hours.

Even if it’s a short-term disaster inching toward a long-term goal!

As a first step, we bought that Nursies While the Sun Shines book. I will admit, I do not like the word “nursies,” but I do like this book. Both my kids like reading it. We got one of those books with pictures of various mammals nursing, too, so we’ve been reading both of them and talking about how all these different animals only nurse during the day time.

My smarty-pants older son knows about nocturnal animals, and needs me to specify that we’re only referring to the diurnal animals nursing while the sun shines. What?

We don’t have a firm action plan in place yet. We have a desire to change, a book that plants the seed about night weaning, and a kid who’s old enough to make it through the night without the calories from my milk. We’ll keep you posted once we decide to make a move.

Did you actively night wean your baby? Leave a comment to share your experience!

3 comments to Night Weaning

  • If it works, please share everything that you’ve learned!! My 2 year old still wakes up during the night to nurse – last night she was up 3 times! My daughters were never “sleep all night” kind of babies so I’ve just kind of accepted it at this point.

  • Samantha

    I love this post, Katy! I night weaned Eli around 12 months. I continued to nurse him to sleep at bedtime, but when he woke at night, Brett would soothe him. We tackled this over Brett’s spring break (he’s a teacher) so that the sleep deprivation wouldn’t hit him as hard. The bulk of the night weaning rested on Brett’s shoulders. If I went into Eli’s room, he of course wanted to nurse. I don’t remember exactly how many rough nights we had, be we got through it, and Eli began to accept nighttime soothing from me without nursing. Humming, patting his pack, and the blessed exercise ball…our best friend (we sit on the ball and bounce our babies instead of rocking)!! Just like for Miles, night weaning did not equal sleeping through the night for Eli, but it was nice that I wasn’t the only nighttime parent anymore. Eli continued to nurse happily “when the sun shines” until he was 2. I’m not sure how we’ll handle night weaning with Caroline, but we’ve got some time. :) Lots of luck to you!

  • […] it got me thinking about my own troubles, particularly in winter. (I know, I said I was going to work toward nightweaning…I haven’t gone much past reading the Nursies book to my […]

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